Many academic struggles are the result of weaknesses in one or more of the basic cognitive skills which support learning. Cognitive skills training works to strengthen weak cognitive skills so that academic learning ability is enhanced.
Cognitive Skills Training
Cognitive skills are the basic processing functions that enable us to learn. These include attention, memory, auditory and visual processing, logic, and reasoning ability. Unlike academic skills which are taught and relate to knowledge about specific subjects, cognitive skills are the underlying mental abilities necessary to process, analyze, and retain information.
Cognitive skills training focuses on strengthening cognitive deficits so that overall learning ability is improved. In recent years, as awareness has grown regarding the impact of weak cognitive skills on academic performance, the variety and availability of cognitive skills training programs have increased.
LearningRx has nationwide centers which provide a comprehensive approach to strengthening the cognitive skills that facilitate learning.They begin by administering the highly regarded Woodcock-Johnson III Test of Cognitive abilities. This battery of tests enables them to assess a wide range of cognitive skills so that the specific difficulties affecting a student can be accurately identified.
Using information obtained from the preliminary testing an individualized program is developed for each student. A private training specialist is assigned to work with students one-on-one for multiple days each week over a three month period. Customized non-academic drills, games, and exercises are utilized each of which targets the strengthening of a specific cognitive skill.
LearningRX reports that students average a 3.6 year gain in cognitive skills. Details regarding their model of training and instruction as well as published test results from working with specific learning disabilities such as autism, ADHD and others are on their website.
BrainSkills is an online program based on the clinical Processing and Cognitive Enhancement program (PACE). PACE was developed by Dr. Ken Gibson, a specialist in the field of cognitive skills training, who is himself a dyslexic, and who founded LearningRX. BrainSkills was designed to assist those who either cannot afford or do not have access to a professional cognitive skills training facility. It delivers a set of non-academic, self-guided exercises via the internet and is available for both school and home use. A detailed description of the online program as well as an interactive demonstration program are accessible at the BrainSkills website.
Brainware Safari software targets kids ages 6-12. It focuses on strengthening 41 cognitive skills to improve learning rate, comprehension, and retention levels. It uses an animated video game format to engage children in 168 progressively challenging exercises, which are targeted toward achievement of specific results. A downloadable information sheet explains the program's origins and research regarding its effectiveness. It can be used in school, clinical, or home based settings.
Audiblox is a system of cognitive exercises which uses manipulatives to develop the foundational skills for reading, spelling, writing, and math to automaticity. Audiblox has programs to address specific learning challenges including dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia, spelling, and math. Lessons spend 2/3 of the time on remediation of subskills and the remaining 1/3 on practical applications. Kits include manipulatives and a DVD modeling the exercises. It can be used to instruct 1 to 40 students and is suitable for all age groups.